Charlotte’s defensive woes continue as Maryland runs away with 56-21 win

The 49ers allowed the Terrapins to accumulate 617 yards of offense

Maryland running back Antwain Littleton II runs for a touchdown past Charlotte linebacker B.J. Turner during the Terps' 56-21 win Saturday in Charlotte. (Chris Carlson / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte 49ers’ defense collapsed once again on Saturday as the Maryland Terrapins exploded for 617 yards of offense in a 56-21 blowout inside Jerry Richardson Stadium. 

The Niners (0-3) allowed the Terps (2-0) to do anything they wanted offensively, freeing up quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa to throw a career-best four touchdown passes with 391 yards on 27-for-31 passing — the 87.1% completion percentage was the highest in Maryland program history.

“I know that there were a bunch of times today where we’re gonna look back on this film and say, ‘Man, we were in a position to make a play and didn’t make it,’” Charlotte coach Will Healy said after the game. “I thought that their quarterback played great and he’s one of the best in the country.”

Just two minutes after kickoff, Maryland wideout Jacob Copeland hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to put the first points on the board.

At the 5:58 mark of the first quarter, Charlotte’s Grant DuBose capped off a 15-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown catch thrown by third-string quarterback Xavier Williams, who was filling in for the injured starter Chris Reynolds and his injured backup James Foster.

DuBose went on to record eight catches for 73 yards; Williams finished the game with 191 passing yards and two scores on 19-for-35 passing.

With the game tied at 7-7, Charlotte failed an onside kick attempt and Maryland quickly took advantage. Tagovailoa threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jeshaun Jones, making it a 14-7 score following the extra-point. 

Copeland and Jones led the Terps in the receiving department with 110 and 71 yards, respectfully.

With 1:18 left in the first quarter, Maryland went up 21-7 after running back Antwaine Littleton busted loose for a 59-yard touchdown run. Niner wideout Elijah Spencer then exploded for a 50-yard pass that quickly led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from Williams to senior Victor Tucker at the 14:25 mark of the second quarter.

Spencer and Tucker were bright spots for Charlotte, finishing with a combined 165 yards. 

Still holding a 21-14 lead, Maryland responded with a touchdown less than two minutes later as Copeland reeled in a 45-yard pass from Tagovailoa — the quarterback’s third touchdown pass of the afternoon — to go up 28-14.

At the 4:47 mark of the second quarter, Maryland’s Jones scored a touchdown on a 16-yard pass to put the Terrapins up 35-14.

Tagovailoa converted a four-yard touchdown run halfway into the third quarter to go up 42-14 after the extra point. After the play, a scary moment ensued as he rolled his ankle after getting into the end zone — he did not return to the game. 

A few minutes later, backup quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. came in to replace Tagovailoa and he led a strong drive down the field. 

Maryland running back Colby McDonald scored on a 49-yard touchdown run at 3:28 in the third quarter to go up 49-14. Then early in the fourth quarter, Edwards threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Octavian Smith Jr. to go up 56-14.

At that point, Charlotte opted to go with redshirt sophomore quarterback Trexler Ivey, who pieced together a drive that led to a five-yard touchdown throw to Tucker with 7:49 left in the game.

In all, the Niners surrendered 26 first downs and only forced the Terps to punt once Unfortunately for the team, things won’t get easier next week as it faces Georgia State (0-2) on the road. The Panthers nearly pulled off an upset of UNC on Saturday.

“How do we find ways to be able to get better? How do we take accountability which then gives us opportunities to be able to get better?” Healy said. “Monday will be therapy for me being able to go out there and find ways to be able to get better.”